BOULDER, Colo. (The Sports Xchange) – After missing out on bowl games since 2007, Colorado was just happy to be invited to a postseason party this year.
Yet amid the excitement of being invited to the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State, there was some disappointment that the Buffaloes did not get into a bigger bowl.
At 10-2, Colorado was ranked No. 9 in the College Football playoff last week giving it a longshot chance of reaching the playoff if it had beaten Washington in the Pac-12 Conference title game on Friday night. However, a 41-10 loss not only ended that possibility, it also wiped away Colorado’s hope of making the Rose Bowl when USC jumped one spot ahead of the Buffaloes at No. 9 to earn a match-up with Penn State in Pasadena.
“They will bounce back,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “They are resilient and we will get them going. They will be excited about playing in a bowl game. None of them have ever been in a bowl game so it will be exciting for them.”
No. 10 Colorado (10-3) accepted an invitation to play No. 12 Oklahoma State (9-3) in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.
“We’re excited to play in the Valero Alamo Bowl,” MacIntyre said. “San Antonio is a tremendous town. It’s a fun, fun town and they love football there. We’ll play our first Big 12 opponent since leaving. It’ll be a heck of a game.”
Colorado and Oklahoma State were longtime rivals in the Big 12 who last played in 2009. Two years later, Colorado moved to the Pac-12 Conference.
The Buffaloes have an all-time-record of 26-19-1 against the Cowboys, but Oklahoma State won the last two matchups.
The match-up with the Cowboys features one of the Pac-12’s top defenses against one of the top offenses in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State ranks third in the conference in scoring offense with 38.7 points per game while ranking second with 322.8 passing yards per game. Colorado allowed 18.8 points per game to rank second in the Pac-12 while having the top pass defense that allows 187.8 yards per game through the air.
Colorado should have success running the ball against Oklahoma State, which gives up an average of 204.4 yards per game on the ground. Led by 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay, Colorado is averaging 201.1 yards per game on the ground.
Colorado did not qualify for a bowl game in each of the past eight seasons, but will return to the postseason for the first time since it lost to Alabama, 30-24, in the 2007 Independence Bowl. After winning just two conference games in MacIntyre’s first three years at the school, Colorado had eight this year.
“These seniors and fourth-year juniors brought Colorado football back,” MacIntyre told the Pac-12 Network after the loss to Washington. “They rose out of the ashes and made us great again. To win seven games, that has only been done 10 times at Colorado.”
The Buffaloes are coming off one of the most impressive turnarounds in recent college football after going 10-3, including an 8-1 record in Pac-12 play to win the South Division. It’s three losses came against Michigan, USC, and Washington, three schools in the Top 10 of the final CFP poll.
“An 11th win would be awesome and put this team in the conversation with the best teams in program history,” MacIntyre said.
Colorado finished 11th in the Associated Press poll, its highest mark at the end of the regular season since 2001.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
–RB Phillip Lindsay has 47 catches on the season to break the school record for most catches by a running back of 45 set by Rodney Stewart in 2011. He has 17 touchdowns, including 16 on the ground, for a total of 102 points that ranks sixth in single-season history for CU and the most at the school since 2002. The junior ranks third in school history with 3,953 all-purpose yards and 13th in rushing at 2,233. He was held to 53 rushing yards in the loss to Washington and that has been a trend this season. CU has not run for 100 yards in any of its three losses and will likely need to get over the century mark to beat Oklahoma State.
–QB Sefo Liufau was injured and ineffective in the loss to Washington in the Pac-12 championship game. He missed most of the first half due to an injury, but returned in the second half to finish with three interceptions to go with three completions for 21 yards. The senior holds the school career records with 10,509 yards of total offense and 9,568 passing yards. He should be back to full strength for the bowl game and CU will need him to be more effective than he was against Washington to have a shot at beating Oklahoma State.
–LB Kenneth Olugbode had a career-high 19 tackles in the loss to Washington including six solo tackles and one-half sack. He leads the team with 135 tackles on the season. The senior also led the Buffs in tackles two years ago with 83. He earned honorable mention, all-Pac-12 honors and will need to be stout against Oklahoma State to give the Buffaloes a chance to win the Alamo Bowl.
–DB Ryan Moeller earned first-team, all-conference honors on special teams. The junior has nine tackles, including six solo, on special teams to rank second on the team. He also made eight starts as a nickel back and registered 45 tackles, including nine in the Pac-12 championship game against Washington. Special teams could be a big part of the Alamo Bowl and Moeller was voted as the conference’s best player on those units as he looks to keep Oklahoma State from getting any big plays in the return game